Building an alternative education movement

From the Streets to the Classroom

By Ashley Abdul
Community Submission

‘L’ is for the love we get. ‘O’ is ‘cause we over stand. ‘S’ is for the streets we rep, and ‘T’ is for the truth we give. It’s more than just an after school program. It’s a life changing experience.

Lost Lyrics is a program that teaches youth about the roots of hip-hop and how hip hop became what it is today. The first year I was apart of this program I thought it was very interesting because nobody had ever taught me about hip-hop.

All I knew was I liked Beyonce and Lil Wayne, but I never really knew what made them who they are. If it were not for the Africans hundreds of years ago just playing a drum made of things they found on the ground, hip-hop wouldn’t be around today. I found Lost Lyrics to be an amazing environment so I decided to keep loyal to the program and many other students felt the same way.

Natasha Daniel and Amanda Parris the creators of Lost Lyrics, watched us grow and eventually they thought it was time for Lost Lyrics to move forward in their teachings. So students started learning how to write rhymes, we talked about more mature things than we were used to like hood politics.

Once we reached our third year, the Lost Lyrics students were no longer just friends with each other, we were a family. Daniel and Parris watched us grow and eventually they saw that we were very comfortable with one another so they decided to take on more topics we could relate to.

We talked about things like relationships, why it is more common for a child coming from a split family to be more likely to be living with his/her mother and one specific topic that really resonated with me, ‘shadism.’

‘Shadism’ is similar to a chart or rule people went by a long time ago that meant the lighter your skin was the more advantages you had. For a couple classes Daniel thought we should take this history and compare it to our reality today. For example, there are still Facebook groups claiming people with light skin are more beautiful than people with dark skin, and the quote “light skin is the right skin” is still used in our community.

I really related to this because before Lost Lyrics brought ‘shadism’ to my attention I did question my skin color, I felt like less of a person and I always felt like I had to be that ideal girl we would see in the media. The type of girl that was very skinny, fair skinned and had light eyes. As we all started digging deeper into this topic we recognized that we are beautiful the way we are. We don’t have to get implants or bleach our skin to be that “it” girl, and at the end of the day, we should love ourselves because we are all smart and gorgeous people that can do anything if we put our heart and soul into it.

Lost Lyrics has put on many performances around Toronto. We have performed at places like the Malvern Public Library, No One is Illegal Protest and 106 and York. Our most important event is The Live Report Card. The Live Report Card is a show where all the staff and students of Lost Lyrics put together the work they have created throughout the year through a showcase. Performances include songs, poetry, monologues, plays, and simple paragraphs trying to portray our point of view.

The Live Report Card was very successful this year because we had sponsors like Grassroots Youth Collaborative and Schools Without Borders supporting us. With the help of these organizations we were able to gain more publicity, which meant we had a larger audience. At the end of the night, we raised over $1000.00 in donations and were on Global News.

Each year students are eager to come back because it is a space where people can be themselves and feel comfortable with who they are. Being able to perform at such a young age has really helped me boost my confidence and has made me feel brave, and it made me believe in myself. Lost Lyrics has kept me motivated throughout the years and it has made me strive to be a more aware, and educated citizen.




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